Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is Your Stash Weighing You Down? Sell It!


Some of the things I made last year with my  leftover stash!

Hi there, I'm Felicity and I blog over at Felicity Quilts. I'm tickled that Madame Samm agreed to let me share with you the cautionary tale of how I ended up with a stash full of fabrics I don't really like, and what I did about it.

First, some background: I started quilting in 2001. I had long admired quilts, loved to look at photos and read about antique and museum-style quilts, but didn't quilt myself. I was intimidated by what I saw and assumed I couldn't do it. My husband - bless his heart, I'm sure he rues the day - suggested I take a beginner's quilting class at my local quilt shop. I had one of those clouds-parting-sun-shining-down-angels-singing moments the very first minute of the class: "I can do this! I can make a quilt!" and I never looked back. I've made probably 100 or more quilts since then, mostly smaller lap size or baby quilts.

I started building my stash slowly, one project at a time. Then I bought a bit of fabric here and there on sale. I added to it with stuff I liked, always from the sale area at the LQS. Then in about 2003 or 2004, my husband's co-worker decided to sell her stash of books and fabric. I bought it. There was probably a good 300+ metres. Lots of florals, lots of romantic patterns. I gave away a bit right away - the non-cotton fabrics and the particularly egregious prints (preprinted holiday vests panels, etc.).

I kept the rest, and did use some. It filled out my stash bookcase nicely, that's for sure.
 The Stash minus the homespuns and flannels in the Closet of Shame. FQs in the plastic bins on top. Check out all the brown and taupes, and the big stack of  white/creams - so not "me" - what the heck was I thinking?

Do you see where this is going? I discovered the online world of quilting and modern quilting at the same time. And just like that, I fell out of love with my stash. "Stash, sweetie, it's not you, it's me...you see, we've grown apart. Actually, I've fallen in love with someone else I met online...." AWKWARD!

I began to feel guilty about adding to an already-large stash, and about not using the fabrics I had. It slowed me down and weighed on me.

Then I had an epiphany. If I didn't like it, I wasn't going to use it, period. Or I would use it but not really love the finished product. Then what the heck was the point in keeping it? I adopted a "clean sweep" mentality about that fabric. I needed to let the old go so that there was more space - physically and emotionally - for the new.

I've sold 100+ metres on Craig's List. Other quilters can't resist quilt shop quality fabric at $2.25-$2.50 a metre (my going rate). You may be thinking, "But you paid more than that! You're losing money!" Yes, that's true, but the money is spent, right? I price to sell. Why let guilt force you to keep something you know you're not going to use just because you paid money for it? There is value to me in seeing my fabric go to a home where it will be used and enjoyed, and to getting some space for fabric that's more "me." One woman who bought a bag full of fabric makes baby quilts on commission, so she needs lots of different styles of fabric on hand for her customers - perfect! Another customer was just getting into quilting and was on a budget. $40 and 20 metres of good quality fabric later, she's well on her way to building her own stash or making a quilt she really loved.

If you're going to sell on Craigslist, can I give you a few tips? 1. Don't type in all caps. 2. Do post a photo. 3. Expect people to treat it kind of like a garage sale, so price accordingly. Here's the photo that accompanied my last ad (which did disclose that one piece in the upper left corner had some gunk on part of it):

I ended up selling it to a "repeat customer" who had previously bought from me.

Finally, here's a shot of the stash as it currently is, pared down to just what's there (no more Closet of Shame!). I haven't completed the transformation yet, but it's a work in progress. I will tell you that I feel ever so much more liberated now that my stash is more to my liking. I'm no longer weighed down by fabric that's good quality but no longer my "style."


The Stash Now - fewer taupes, more blues, more brights especially orange. 

Thanks for letting me pontificate for a little while. Now go and cull your stash and get rid of dead fabric weight! I promise you'll feel a lot lighter!

41 comments:

  1. Oh, you gem! I'm so with you. If you no longer are in love with your fabrics - let them go. It is getting no love stashed in a closet or shelf - let someone else pet it and cherish it. I get a lot of fabric donated to me and there are some things that just aren't my taste. But I share with daughter, now retired SIL, and then on to the Senior Center or Youth Center, 4-H clubs or Scouting clubs - somewhere out there is a person jumping up and down with a piece of fabric they "just love". Thank you for a wake up call - whether it's a sale or passing it on - sometimes it's best to let it go.

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  2. I gave away a lot of fabric that just didn't do it for me any more, you feel so much better after you have done this, another good way is to use it in charity quilts or if you have a lot of yardage then as backing on charity quilts.

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  3. I'm impressed! It will be interesting to see if I can be that ruthless! lol

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  4. Fabulous idea! Thanks for the great post. xo

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  5. Great job paring down your stash ... both in knowing what you didn't like and how and when to share it with someone else :) Thank you for sharing your great ideas.

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  6. Better to let it go then way you down. I like the idea of recouping some of your material. My tastes have changed as well. Not ready to part with it just yet though. lol

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  7. I have been trying to use some fabric to make some blocks and I have hit a brick wall. I just don't like the fabrics and I see where you are coming from. I may give them to someone who will love them and then I won't feel so bad for quitting. Taste's do change. I started with very pretty fabrics then went onto batiks but have come full circle and back to pretties again. Thank you for sharing.
    Love Shirley.x

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  8. Good Morning Felicity..how daunting of a task, ridding "stash" that we had to have or loved it at one time, to "nah, don't like it, not working for me" lol I sew get that...selling or swapping that is the answer. Heavens if it does not work for you, why keep it...and LOOK at what you made with the leftovers, I say my dear, you did good...

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  9. What a great idea. I think a lot of people don't realize that they do have to price it to sell! If they really want it to move.
    Loved your post!

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  10. What a fabulous idea! :o) I am in the building process of stash, so in no need to sell. :o) But I do have a local quilt club in my tiny town, made up of mainly elderly ladies, who have been super thankful to receive my donations of fabrics. :o) Mainly mixtures of scraps, but they make the most beautiful creations from small fabric pieces!! :o)
    Sincerely, Trish

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  11. Great idea. And then you can use the proceeds to buy fabrics that you just love! lol

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  12. What a wonderful idea. I have donated fabric before as well to get the same idea done of getting dead weight fabric gone. You just look at it and think, why did I buy you???

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  13. Thought about doing that, but have heard that fabric is going to go up about 2.00 a yard. Now I'm glad I have all this stuff. Most of my quilts now will be scrappy. And I make my quilts to amuse myself, not to sell, so I have no one else to please, lol.

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  14. I'm impressed that you have only one bookcase of "stash". I need to go through my stash and do this. I had not thought of Craig's list but it is a perfect way to do it. Thanks for the tips!!

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  15. Brilliant idea----the thought of giving it away hurts, but to sell it, now that's a good idea.

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  16. I've never used Craig's list but what a great idea! At my quilt guild we can bring things to sell to other quilters. We simply donate 10% of what we make back to the guild. That works well for all of us! blessings, marlene

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  17. Another thing that can be done is donating it to a charity that makes quilts for the homeless or for kids in hospitals. Or church groups which sell them for their projects. There is always a place for unwanted stash......too bad I don't have that trouble! LOL

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  18. Wonderful idea and a thoroughly entertaining post!!

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  19. Congrats on getting your stash down to what makes you happy, never thought of looking on Craig's List for fabric.

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  20. Subsequent to reading this post I tried searching Craig's list. I guess I don't know how to use it, as I tried to search Canada wide but it would only let me search by area - daunting task. Also when I searched material in the Toronto area (where I live), all I got was upholstery fabric. If you could do an update to this post on how to search Craig's list it would be appreciated. Thanks for a great post.

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  21. Good advice. It's great when you can get unwanted fabric into other hands that can use it.

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  22. Great post! After organizing my stash recently, I'm ready to eliminate some of my former "favorites" too.

    Jennifer :)

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  23. Great idea!! Now if I could only part with it!!!

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  24. Great idea!! I may have to rethink my charitable contributions!!! xo, Nan

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  25. Congratulations, Felicity, that must feel great! I'm planning on using some prints I've fallen out of love with to make a scrappy picnic blanket for our family. That way, we won't feel bad about messing up the quilt, because it'll be quite ugly!

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  26. Hey Felicity. Love that "it's not you, it's me". haha. I was able to sell a bit of outdated stash at my guild's november sewing room sale, but then I gave most of it away at retreat. There is still lots to go, but I think you're right, I should sell some, especially the batiks which cost a fortune, but I likely won't use anymore. Anyone in the market for some gorgeous Hoffman Bali Batiks?

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  27. Well, as you know I'm constantly parting with fabric. Why haven't I thought of Craig's List? Great idea.

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  28. It's almost time for a fabric cull at my stash, so thankyou for sharing Falicity! I may just consider the selling option, though I already swap with quilting friends :) It's good to share :)

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  29. Maintaining a manageable stash with only fabrics you like and will use is important... and what a great idea to sell the no-longer-loved fabrics on Craig's List! Thanks for sharing this info!

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  30. Fabulous idea! Thanks for the great post.
    I have been trying to use it up..just making quilts to use it up...

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  31. Great idea! You are so right! Get rid of fabric that you don't love. Thanks for a great post!

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  32. Great idea...sometimes it does weigh you down!

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  33. That is what is great about mystery quilts, and quilt alongs.........using up your stash. shop your stash first. It is my New Years resolution to get rid of all my scraps, and use as much of my stash as possible, oh yeah to finish all those QIP;s, UFO;s, and PhD's too! You can see how I am getting rid of it all on my blog at 16muddyfeet.blogspot.com

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  34. Thanks for sharing what we all need to hear in such a humerous way...

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  35. What a great idea Felicity - I have stacks that I could clear out this way! Oh and Krista - about those batiks...

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  36. A store just opened in my neck of the woods. They purchse fabric for $5/lb and resell it. They also sell yarn and some new fabric. The store isn't dumpy at all and the fabric is all very nicely organized as in any regular quilt store. I think it's a wonderful concept and I wish I had though of it!

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  37. Great recommendation & tips!

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

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  38. This is a great post! Such a good attitude, in with the new! :)

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